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Colorado Chefs Laying Nutritional Foundations

PHOTO: Chef Tyler Wiard at Elway's Cherry Creek. Courtesy Elway's Cherry Creek.
PHOTO: Chef Tyler Wiard at Elway's Cherry Creek. Courtesy Elway's Cherry Creek.
February 7, 2013

DENVER - Colorado chefs are reaching out from the kitchen to the classroom in an effort to help schoolchildren get better grades and be better prepared for class. It's part of "Breakfast After the Bell," a school breakfast proposal being considered by state lawmakers.

Tyler Wiard, culinary director for Elway's restaurants, a "Top Chef" contestant and celebrity spokesman for "Breakfast After the Bell," takes his side job seriously.

"It's not, 'I'm just not happy with it.' I can't explain the passion and drive I have to get our state and then our country to really understand the childhood hunger," he said.

"Breakfast After the Bell" would provide free or low-cost school breakfasts to children where 70 percent or more students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. The bill passed its first committee hearing last week.

Summer Gathercole, Colorado state director at Share Our Strength, says Wiard offers a different perspective than do other advocates for childhood nutrition.

"Tyler doesn't have any kind of hidden agenda," she said. "He's out there because he believes in it. He knows it's for the good of the kids."

A side benefit, Wiard said, would be engaging children in the culinary world.

"That would be the icing," he said. "If it doesn't start there, these kids are never going to learn. They're never going to grow and they're never going to have an opportunity to reach higher and higher and higher."

Ending childhood hunger is just one way Wiard and other chefs are giving back to the community. Tonight, they're taking part in "Soup for the Soul" - a benefit for Denver-area hospice programs. More information on the benefit is online at soupforthesouldenver.org.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO